Showing posts from 2017

Machine Learning with Starbursts

This article was featured on HackerNoon magazine, YoungCoder, and was featured in Kath Ceceri’s book: Bots! Robotics Engineering with Hands-On Makerspace Activities . Her book is also a fantastic resource for many other activities. This past week I had the opportunity to partner with a local school for the Hour of Code . With the trust and support of the educators, I gave myself a new goal: spend the Hour of Code teaching and coding the basic concepts of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with 5th and 6th graders — and without the help of any technology, I was left to use Starbursts instead. If I could successfully distill the concepts of A.I. and Machine Learning to a group of 5th graders without relying on any technology, it could create a very compelling case for how unnecessary technology is when it comes to teaching children to code.

A Different Approach to Teaching Kids and Teens to Code

This article originally appeared in HackerNoon magazine. How do you teach 5th graders about Software Engineering concepts without getting too deep into any particular language? This is a question I’d been asking myself a few weeks in advance of attending a local school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fair. I’d toyed with one of the standard approaches — move an object from a starting point to a destination with a series of commands (“Move left, turn 90 degrees clockwise, etc.). There are plenty of board games ( Robot Turtles, RoboRally ) and online examples of this concept, and while it definitely presents a clear goal, I’ve always felt the only big take-away for children is that the order of your operations matters. Not only this, but in a more literal sense, challenging problems like movement and rotation as well as object collisions are over-simplified. This leaves children with the wrong impression of programming — that there’s a set of commands out there


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